Under the Black Flag in Borno: experiences of foot soldiers and civilians in Boko Haram's ‘caliphate’
Boko Haram's operations and ideology have been the subject of increasing research in recent years. This article, in contrast, explores the culture of Boko Haram through an ethnographic analysis of the group's internal videos that were not intended for public release. The authors find that in their everyday lives Boko Haram foot soldiers are different from the image the group presents to the world in propaganda videos. While unmistakably a violent movement, in territories under the group's control that it attempted to administer, foot soldiers participated in conflict resolution with elders, explained the group's position on external alliances to villagers, engaged in recreation to pass time off the battlefield and created bonds of solidarity with other members of the group. Using insights from anthropology and the examination of 'Jihadi Culture', this article's insights help us understand how and why Boko Haram foot soldiers fight beyond the group's public ideology or stated goals: for many of them, it is simply a lifestyle.